Cooking for two is boring -- I want to cook for the entire blogosphere!

Monday, October 8

Cinnamon Buns

Even though it's still 80 degrees in New York, something about October signals fall. Maybe it's the leaves turning brown and landing in the gutter. Or maybe it's the neighbors, who already have their stoop decked out in fake spiderwebs and plastic bats. Or maybe it's the way the breeze swoops in, cooler than the sunshine and humidity would predict, reminding us that winter really isn't that far off.

In any case, I decided to make cinnamon buns. I've always wanted to and finally found a reipe that seemed relatively easy to put together. In fact, this recipe was more difficult in execution than it seemed it would be. The dough is very sticky and split apart when I rolled it out and again when I rolled it up. Removing the baked buns from the pan "without seperating" was mere wishful thinking on the part of the recipe writers, or maybe they just had a really big spatula. Instead of emerging as eight rolls all stuck together, I ended up with a jumbled mass of bread and melted sugar. Still, it must be said that these buns are all kind of delicious. The biscuit part is very nice, and the filling crisps up into sort of a toffee on the outside. I don't know who ever thought to christen these rolls a breakfast food, however; they are so sweet my teeth hurt.

Quick Cinnamon Buns with Buttermilk Icing

Melted butter is used in both the filling and the dough and to
grease the pan; it’s easiest to melt the total amount (8
tablespoons) at once and measure it out as you need it. The
finished buns are best eaten warm, but they hold reasonably well
for up to 2 hours. Makes 8 buns.

1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted, for pan

Cinnamon-Sugar Filling
3/4 cup dark brown sugar (packed, 5 1/4 ounces)
1/4 cup granulated sugar (1 3/4 ounces)
2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
1/8 teaspoon ground cloves
1/8 teaspoon table salt
1 tablespoon unsalted butter , melted

Biscuit Dough
2 1/2 cups unbleached all-purpose flour (12 1/2 ounces), plus
additional flour for work surface
2 tablespoons granulated sugar
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon table salt
1 1/4 cups buttermilk
6 tablespoons unsalted butter , melted

2 tablespoons cream cheese , softened
2 tablespoons buttermilk
1 cup confectioners' sugar (4 ounces)

1. Adjust oven rack to upper-middle position and heat oven to 425
degrees. Pour 1 tablespoon melted butter in 9-inch nonstick cake
pan; brush to coat pan. Spray wire rack with nonstick cooking
spray; set aside.

2. To make cinnamon-sugar filling: Combine sugars, spices, and salt
in small bowl. Add 1 tablespoon melted butter and stir with fork or
fingers until mixture resembles wet sand; set filling mixture aside.

3. To make biscuit dough: Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking
soda, and salt in large bowl. Whisk buttermilk and 2 tablespoons
melted butter in measuring cup or small bowl. Add liquid to dry
ingredients and stir with wooden spoon until liquid is absorbed
(dough will look very shaggy), about 30 seconds. Transfer dough to
lightly floured work surface and knead until just smooth and no
longer shaggy.

4. Pat dough with hands into 12 by 9-inch rectangle. Following
illustrations below, fill, roll, cut, and arrange buns in buttered
cake pan. Brush with 2 tablespoons remaining melted butter. Bake
until edges are golden brown, 23 to 25 minutes. Use offset metal
spatula to loosen buns from pan; without separating, slide buns out
of pan onto greased cooling rack. Cool about 5 minutes before icing.

5. To make icing and finish buns: While buns are cooling, line
rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper (for easy cleanup); set
rack with buns over baking sheet. Whisk cream cheese and buttermilk
in large nonreactive bowl until thick and smooth (mixture will look
like cottage cheese at first). Sift confectioners’ sugar over;
whisk until smooth glaze forms, about 30 seconds. Spoon glaze
evenly over buns; serve immediately.

STEP BY STEP: Rolling Up Cinnamon Buns

1. Brush dough with 2 tablespoons melted butter. Sprinkle evenly
with filling, leaving 1/2-inch border of plain dough around edges.
Press filling firmly into dough.
2. Using bench scraper or metal spatula, loosen dough from work
surface. Starting at long side, roll dough, pressing lightly, to
form a tight log. Pinch seam to seal.

3. Roll log seam-side down and cut evenly into eight pieces. With
hand, slightly flatten each piece of dough to seal open edges and
keep filling in place.
4. Place one roll in center of prepared nonstick pan, then place
remaining seven rolls around perimeter of pan.

*Cooks Illustrated 2002

Thursday, October 4

Portobello Mushroom Spaghetti

I want to say thanks to my pal at On the Hob for rescuing me from my dining dilemma tonight: what to do with the giant Portobello mushroom I bought? Couldn't stuff it, couldn't make a sandwich, no point in roasting... Her solution? Saute it with a little balsamic vinegar. It worked like a charm. I added zucchini (or courgette as some people I know like to say), tomatoes, and Italian parsley and served it over spaghetti. Here's how the whole thing turned out:

It was quite a nice dinner, and I liked using up odds and ends that were already in the fridge and cupboard. I also have to thank Jamie Oliver for the pasta serving suggestion that appears in this month's Gourmet: swirl the spaghetti in a ladle or large spoon and then plate. It was so much easier than shlurping with a fork or tongs and looked pretty, too. It's nice to see something in Gourmet that's actually practical and useful for the home cook and not just theoretical inspiration...